A couple weeks ago, for one of the final shoots of Crush, the new TransWorld Motocross video, Garth and Jay Swietzer flew up to the Bluffdale, Utah, headquarters of Ogio. There, the guys at Ogio had constructed a world-class freestyle park, perfect for Nate Adams to show off the backflipping style that’s made him one of the premier (and most medal-decorated) riders around.
Big G came home raving about how cool it was to hang out with the Ogio-sponsored riders, about the riding terrain, and about Ogio’s headquarters. Normally it takes women, some beer, and a good punk rock show to get Garth that worked up, so a call was made to the Sales Manager of Ogio’s MX division, Ted Wright, so that he could fill us in on what makes the bag maker tick.
According to Ted, “Ogio was started in 1987 by Mike Pratt, who’s a very inventive guy, and the first product was called the locker bag. It’s a hard-shell bag that’s designed to fit in a locker, and to sit on narrow benches at a gym. It’s still one of our top five sellers. That opened the doors into sporting goods markets, and from there Ogio expanded into duffle bags, backpacks, day packs, and were sold in back-to-school venues.”
But a little over five years ago, Ogio jumped into an arena that really exploded for them—the golf market. As Ted explained, “It was easy for us because we’re a bag company. All the competitors were more focused on the sales and marketing of their clubs, shoes and balls, which gave us a competitive advantage. The timing was also perfect, because it was when players like Tiger Woods were making golf cool again to young people.”
The look of the Ogio golf bags, along with their marketing, was also something that the golf world had never seen. “The things that inspired our colors and designs all came from the action sports world. It brought an aggressive and fresh look into golf, when for the last 30 years golf bags had been dominated by big heavy vinyl bags.”
Motocross was among the next group of sports that Ogio took on. Golf helped them realize that, “There area lot of sports out there that we can go into and be the gear bag company.” Competitors included Fox and Thor and No Fear, but as Ted says, “They’re not bag makers, so we felt like it was an opportunity to come in, built a superior product, and be able to compete price wise.”
“One thing that we did was before we ever sewed a stitch, was to hook up with riders like Pastrana, Jones and Bartram, who have all spent time in the design room with the Ogio engineers, helping design the entire line.”
“In the moto-specific stuff, there are nine products. We’ve found that as the brand and our image has grown, our big customers are even bringing in a lot of our non-moto products, even our regular back-to-school bags. Kids are wearing labels like Fox and Thor and No Fear. Those are hot labels among kids. Now you’re buying those brands in malls. We put together a program in August to bring the bags into moto shops to see how they’d do, and it was even more successful than I could have imagined. The kids are definitely starting to recognize the brand, so they’re buying Ogio.”
“We’ve also got aa line for events. For tailgating and football games and stuff like that. They’re great for race day. Blankets, etc. Also, cooler packs that have sold well in the shops that sell watercraft. We’re a very unique company, because we have so many different lines for so many avenues.”
“We’ve got a national rep force that calls on golf shops. We’ve got another rep force that calls on sporting goods stores, and around 22 reps that hit the moto shops…each one of these with different product line.”
On selling direct to dealers, Ted explained that Ogio’s philosophy is simple. “We like to offer our dealers high margins. These guys are getting 50% on nearly every one of our products, and that would be hard to do with if you threw another middleman in there, without completely pricing yourself out of the business. That’s the way we want to build it and grow it. We also want to remain exclusive.”
As Ted tells it, growth at Ogio, especially over the last few years has been strong. “In the moto division, and the entire action sports division, we’ve grown every month. It’s been just over a year that we’ve been involved, but the company as a whole had some pretty hot years from ’98 through ’01, the company doubled each of those three years. It’s slowed down after that, but the growth has been fairly consistent.”
Another source of pride for Ted is Ogio’s commitment to quality. “All of our packs and duffles and moto bags carry a lifetime warranty. We’re enormous sticklers on QA, so we always keep close tabs on that.”
Ogio’s facility in Utah consists of two building. The larger of the two is 190,000 square feet, and is primarily used for warehousing, but Ogio’s devotion to their athletes also shows, since there are plans to build a street course along with half-pipes for Ogio-sponsored skaters and BMXers, to go along with the foam pit that’s already in the building, but which will be moved into the same area. The other building houses offices and adds approximately another 100,000 square feet.
Of course, that doesn’t include the jump zone outside the offices. Ted explains, “We’ve really beefed that track up. It used to be a pretty standard and less than professional motocross track. One that I used to like to get out there and enjoy. (Laughs) Now I don’t even want to look at it.”
Their office also sits at the base of one of the best paragliding mountains in the world, and when big clients come into town, they get treated to sand rails in the sand dunes, skydiving or hang gliding. “We always wanted to be that unconventional company.”
From all accounts, it looks like they got their wish.
Contact: Ogio International
14926 Pony Express Road
Bluffdale, UT 84065
Tel: (801) 619-4100